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Robber who escaped post office raid in Vauxhall Corsa jailed for five years

PUBLISHED: 17:30 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 06 April 2018

Neil Chamberlain was jailed for 5 years for robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Neil Chamberlain was jailed for 5 years for robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

A judge praised the “true grit” shown by a 75-year-old postmistress held-up in a rural post office raid after he jailed one of the robbers for five years.

Surlingham Post Office. PIC: Peter Walsh.Surlingham Post Office. PIC: Peter Walsh.

Two robbers burst into Surlingham Post Office and repeatedly ordered the victim, who was 74 at the time, to open the till, forcing her to hand over £1,000 in cash and postal orders before fleeing the scene, with another man, who acted as look out, Norwich Crown Court heard today.

Neil Chamberlain, 32, of Beechcroft Court, Cringleford, admitted taking part in the robbery on February 2 last year, and appeared via video link from Peterborough prison. He was jailed five years to be served on top of a 45-month sentence he is already serving for burglary.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said the victim was terrified when one of the robbers pointed what she thought was a gun at her.

“She was understandably terrified by what was occurring,” he said.

Chamberlain was arrested at his home in Cringleford, and a black hand drill was recovered from the Vauxhall Corsa used in the raid, believed to have been used as the imitation firearm, along with postal orders taken in the robbery.

Mr Morgans said the stolen cash had all been spent on drugs.

Jailing Chamberlain, Judge Anthony Bate said: “The gun looked all too real to the frightened victim when confronted by it on that afternoon.”

He said the victim had shown resilience and “true grit” and said: “Only a few days after the robbery she was back in work and the post office was open again for business.”

He said she declined to make a victim impact statement but instead got back to running her business and serving the public: “Her view was that she would rather get on with running the shop.”

Jailing Chamberlain, he said they had deliberately targeted the post office and timed the robbery for later in the day in the hope of more cash on the premises.

Ian James, for Chamberlain, said the robbery, which was carried out on Chamberlain’s 32nd birthday, was short-lived and no actual violence was used. He said Chamberlain had been co-operative and deserved credit for his plea.

Another man Kevin Tunmore, 36, of Low Common, Ashby St Mary, was cleared of robbery and possessing an imitation firearm following a trial.

Postmistress has ‘lost confidence’

Despite the judge’s praise, the postmistress at the centre of the robbery has said she has ‘lost a lot of confidence’ and now finds it difficult to go outside.

Neil Chamberlain, 31, of Beechcroft Court, Cringleford, was sentenced to prison yesterday for his part in the robbery of Surlingham Post Office, after he admitted acting as a lookout while two men went into the store.

Kevin Tunmore, 36, of Low Common, Ashby St Mary, was charged but found not guilty of robbing the 75-year-old woman’s shop.

The postmistress, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It has made me concerned and anxious about so many things – I lost a lot of my confidence.”

She said that she has found it difficult to go outside.

She also confirmed that she wanted to see the other two people involved in the robbery held accountable.

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